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Eight months after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast, the U.S. government is calling on the expertise of regional designers for disaster prevention solutions. On Thursday, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary Shaun Donovan launched Rebuild by Design, a multistage competition meant to generate designs that increase resiliency in vulnerable coastal communities.

“We want the brightest minds developing real solutions to the very serious challenges we face,” said Secretary Donovan at a press conference at New York University.

The contest, overseen by President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, will identify and target vulnerabilities in one of four categories: coastal communities, high-density urban environments, ecological networks, and an open category for other innovative proposals.

“We want proposals that will have an impact on the ground for people,” Secretary Donovan said. “This might mean large-scale approach that affects the entire region – or a series of small projects that can be implemented by cities and towns.”

Applicants must possess expertise in areas including engineering, landscape design, and urban planning. Participants must submit a detailed proposal by July 20. Winning projects will be implemented next March.

The Rebuild by Design initiative is sponsored by both federal and private funds, including a $3 million investment from the Rockefeller Foundation. The Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force will partner with organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts and New York University’s Institute for Public Knowledge.

The competition’s launch comes one week after New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled $20 billion proposal to fortify the city against natural disasters.

The Rebuild by Design official rules can be found on HUD’s website.